Hello and welcome!
Meet the Cruz Law Team.
Blyss Cruz, Owner and Managing Attorney
As the owner of Cruz Law, my estate planning practice focuses on helping families enhance their lives today and secure their legacies for tomorrow. I can't emphasize the importance of proper planning enough, and you need the right person to guide you through the often confusing maze of financial and legal decisions to create a plan that ensures the well-being of your family and the accomplishment of cherished family goals.
With that in mind, I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself and why I think I'm the right person for the job.
I have lived in Alaska nearly all of my life, and have spent the last 14 years in Anchorage. During that time, I worked in special credits dealing with troubled loans and bank-owned properties at Northrim Bank while earning my MBA and raising two children with my husband. After leaving the banking industry, I went to work for nearly ten years at the Municipality of Anchorage as the manager of tax enforcement and delinquent court-ordered fine collection. During my time at the Municipality, my staff and I implemented two new tax programs: the Marijuana Retail Sales Tax and the Motor Fuel Excise Tax, which generate nearly $20 million in annual Municipal revenue.
But going to law school has always been my dream. So, when I discovered Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, the first - and only - law school in the United States to offer an American Bar Association-approved Juris Doctor program with equal portions of instruction online and on campus, I decided to turn that dream into a reality. The hybrid program permitted me to continue living and working in Anchorage while completing my law degree.
While at Mitchell Hamline, a classmate and I won the Moot Court Appellate Advocacy Competition, and I was an assistant editor of the Mitchell Hamline Law Review. I also became certified in Trauma-Informed Advocacy. I graduated cum laude and became a member of the Alaska Bar in 2019.
After graduation, I served as a law clerk at the Anchorage Superior Court to the Honorable Kevin M. Saxby from 2019 - 2020, and to the Honorable Thomas A. Matthews from 2020 - 2021.
Why I Chose Estate Planning
During my time working at the court, I learned more than I ever thought possible, and I will forever be grateful for the mentorship of both judges I had the honor of working for. But the most valuable lesson I learned was that I did not want to be a litigator, nor did I want to immerse myself
in conflict, day in and day out. I knew I needed to find a better way to use my law degree to help others that did not involve fighting with opposing counsel every day. That's when I found estate planning.
Professionally, my background is well-suited for this practice area, as it is comprised of legal knowledge, as well as my 24 years of experience as a financial professional in banking and special credits, and a decade of public service in the Finance Department of the Municipality of Anchorage. I also understand the challenges involved with owning and operating a business, aside from my law practice, as I assist my husband with running a successful general contracting business here in Anchorage. I incorporate this knowledge into my law practice and use it to develop planning strategies for individuals and business owners, with a focus on family protection, wealth preservation, and values-based planning.
Personally, I recently experienced the harsh reality of what incapacity and death are like when even basic foundational planning isn't in place. My father passed away, after spending nearly two weeks in the ICU. It was unexpected and I didn't have time to say all of the things I wished I had said, and I'm sure he didn't either. We had never had the tough discussions about end-of-life planning, and so I watched my mom make one heart-wrenching decision after another because he did not have a healthcare directive in place. The experience solidified my decision to pursue this practice area, knowing that if I could help even one family avoid what mine went through, I would be using my hard-earned law degree for the greater good.
I have thrown myself into learning everything I can about wills, trusts, and estate plans, which is a practice area that I hadn’t really thought much about since my Trusts & Estates class in law school and the studying I did in the subject area for the Bar Exam. Since delving into extensive training, I have drafted my family's plan--which did not exist until I started down this career path, and I have such peace of mind knowing that I'm doing the right thing for my loved ones and that my goals and wishes will be carried out when I'm no longer here to do so myself.
Of Counsel Attorney
At Cruz Law, I primarily work behind-the-scenes to ensure that the important choices clients make during their Family Wealth Planning Session are captured properly in the final documents they sign at their Signing Ceremony. Additionally, for clients who have chosen to utilize a trust in their estate plan, I create plan diagrams that help them understand how their plan works by visualizing how their trust changes upon various events in their lives.
I have been a licensed attorney in Alaska for approximately 37 years. During my journey to becoming an attorney, I was a visiting student at Harvard and the University of California at Santa Cruz, and I received my Bachelor's Degree in the field of Psychology and Economics from Antioch College in Ohio in 1977. I attended Seattle University School of Law where I was in the top 5% of my class and was an editor of the Law Review before graduating Cum Laude in 1984.
In 1984, I came to Alaska when I was recruited by the Alaska Supreme Court to work for the Honorable Justice Warren Matthews. Later, I served in a similar capacity for the Honorable Herbert Ross, United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Alaska.
In private practice, I was a Commercial Associate Attorney for Burr, Pease & Kurtz, a premiere Alaskan law firm, from 1985 - 1988. Most notably, I formed the Law Offices of Deitra Ennis in 1989, which I operated until 2008. It was initially a small business law office that expanded to the largest consumer bankruptcy practice in Alaska. I also handled real estate and commercial transactions, probate, business planning, and divorce.
In late 2008, I accepted the position as Deputy Municipal Attorney with the Municipality of Anchorage, which is where I stayed until December 2021. I was second in charge of the Municipal Civil Law Department, where I managed and supervised 12 attorneys and 6 support staff members. I assigned all matters, was a liaison to all municipal departments, and carried a personal caseload with matters that involved contracts, procurement, appropriations, real estate, purchase and sale agreements, legislative drafting, and compliance with required public processes.
While at the Municipality of Anchorage, I was also the attorney for the Board of Equalization. Additionally, I served as the Municipal Ethics Officer and was the attorney for the Board of Ethics, during which time I rewrote the Code of Ethics in conjunction with the Board.
Why I Chose Estate Planning
After retiring from the Municipality of Anchorage, I chose to transition into a behind-the-scenes role at Cruz Law so I could enjoy the flexibility of a less demanding schedule. I also want to put my many years of experience to use by making sure our clients have made the best choices within their estate plan, by reviewing aspects of the plan design such as trust-funding options and tax planning strategies. I then ensure these crucial choices are properly reflected in the documents that become the clients' official estate plan.
Why Work with Cruz Law?
At Cruz Law, we believe that foundational estate planning is something that everyone should have in place, and that wealth includes so much more than money or other assets. These beliefs form the basis of Cruz Law's legal practice, where we use our skills, education, and experience to help people plan for their lives and protect their legacies.
The foundation of Cruz Law is built on keeping your family out of court and out of conflict. We build relationships upon this foundation so that we can care for you and your family throughout all of life's stages. With that in mind, each estate plan we create includes a three-year complimentary plan review to make sure that as your life changes, your plan stays current and provides you with maximum protection.
Cruz Law also offers you the option of joining the Family Wealth VIP Membership Program, which is designed with maximum protection and service in mind, so it includes annual plan reviews and much more.
On the business side of things, we provide ongoing strategic support so that you can focus on growing your business and building your legacy. We can help you with business formation, business succession planning, policy drafting and review, strategic advising and planning, agreement drafting and review, intellectual property protection, developing financial certainty, and more. We also offer the option of joining a unique membership program to ensure that your legal, insurance, financial, and tax (LIFT) affairs are kept up-to-date on an ongoing basis, month after month.
So, no matter what stage of life you're in, or whether you're a business owner, married or single, have a traditional or blended family, or are just starting out or looking back over a lifetime of memories, we understand the importance of crafting a plan that achieves your goals for your loved ones today and for years to come. We look forward to the opportunity to help you with your planning.